Resigning Wife: A Dog In A Sweater


 by Prudence

At some point during all the packing, I asked my husband if he wanted to keep his wedding ring. This may seem like an odd question to ask, but here’s the thing: to the best of my recollection, after our wedding ceremony, he never once wore it. Not on dates, not to family holidays, not even to a party I threw for my grandmother’s ninetieth birthday, though I begged, because the thought of my entire family knowing that the man I committed the rest of my life to wouldn’t wear a wedding ring was mortifying.

I used to make excuses for him in public. I’d say, “Trying to get a wedding ring on him is like trying to put a dog in a sweater,” and then laugh. In private, we fought about it often, and as hard as I tried to be the cool wife who was blasé about her husband donning a public symbol of commitment, I always failed. He would say, “I just don’t like the ring.” If I offered to go buy another, he’d say, “We just don’t have enough money right now,” and I would say, “Okay,” and let it go—in the conversation, if not in my head—because I didn’t know what else to say. We didn’t have a ton of money, true, but we had enough to splurge on fancy restaurants and new iPhones sometimes, so why not a ring? But I didn’t press the issue because I think I knew what I was going to find out if I did: wearing a wedding ring wasn’t anywhere near the top of his priority list, whether it made me happy or not.

Admittedly, there was something deeper at work, which is this: my husband lied about being married to me. (Which, as I’m typing, makes me want to knock my past self upside the head, although I know the more appropriate reaction would be compassion.) Like most things in my life that have blossomed into full-fledged disasters, it started small. We married young, so young that he had one more year of college left, and he didn’t want to be seen as “the married guy.” So he didn’t want to tell anyone that he had a wife. I understood. I completely did. I’d just graduated college, so the thought of having a memorable senior year was something I still empathized with. And it didn’t really matter, did it? After graduation, how many people was he really going to keep in touch with? Our closest friends knew, and we knew, and that was what was really important. Right? 

At his graduation, I had to stand next to him as he introduced his family to his friends. “This is my mom, this is my dad, this is my brother, and this is… Prudence.” The ellipsis was audible. It made my blood boil, but I ignored it, telling myself that it was over, that I’d chosen to make a sacrifice for my husband’s happiness, and that now we could get down to the business of having a normal marriage.

After his graduation ceremony, his whole family gathered for a celebratory dinner. A lot of distant relatives had come from out of town to mark his achievement with toasts and speeches. Perhaps this is a good point to mention that his mother didn’t want anyone to know we were married, either. Anyway, after just enough white wine and one too many people speaking about his future, one which they had no idea involved me, I decided that I wanted to give a toast, too. So I stood up, in front of all of his family and gave him the most lovely, supportive speech. I think he knew what I was about to do, and how mean-spirited it was, but to everyone else in the room, I was just a happily buzzed girlfriend bubbling over with joy. “I know you’re going to do so well in whatever comes next,” I said,  “and I’m so proud that I’m your wife.” And then I sat my ass down, happy with the stand that I’d taken, with the big, “Fuck, you,” I’d just sent his way.

And then two months later, my husband started a job with people he went to college with, and he lied about being married to me at work, too.

He did keep the ring, by the way. The ring that I slipped on his finger as I took my vows, the ring that sat in a box on our dresser and grew tarnished. He kept it. I think it would have been easier if he hadn’t.

Photo: Emily Takes Photos
Prudence is in the process of getting a divorce from her husband of almost three years. She’s currently on the road sightseeing, writing, and engaging in general vagrancy.



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  • Bee

    You are SO brave, and I am in awe of your strength. Sending lots of love, compassion and understanding your way.

    • Jess

      Sorry. Reported by mistake when I was only trying to agree with your words of support.

  • Thank you for being so honest and so brave.


    …Which, as I’m typing, makes me want to knock my past self upside the head, although I know the more appropriate reaction would be compassion.

    THIS. Sometimes I find it really hard to be forgiving of my past self, as in my current self’s opinion, she was a sappy, naive idiot. Oh, hindsight. You think you know so much. It’s really easy to forget how it felt at the time, and how easy it was to rewrite my life as I lived it so it was justifiable, somehow.

    Thank you, Prudence, for writing this. I just remarried and it’s triggering all kinds of nasty bits from my first marriage. This helps.


    • Cali

      Yeah, that line really resonated with me as well. Fortunately, I didn’t marry mine. But we dated for six years and lived together for three… for half of my high school career and my entire college experience… and there used to be many times that I would look back at our (in retrospect) nightmare of a relationship and be furious and bitter with my past self for not figuring it out sooner so I could have happier memories of that formative time of my life.

      But, after a little time and distance, I’ve ultimately come to realize that even that unpleasant experience ultimately made me who I am today. Without that toxic relationship that I needed an excuse to finally leave, I would never have moved abroad for a year. And that was one of the best experiences of my life. I might never have moved to the city I live in now and met my now-husband.

      Yeah, I still have some scars from it that rise to the surface now and then… but, ultimately, I’m happy now. And if I had to wade through that shit storm to get to this place, I guess I can’t complain all that much. It took me several years to finally get to that place, though.

      • yep, although I still regularly beat myself up about it, and my trainwreck only lasted a year

  • JustAnotherBlue

    Wow. What a giant asshole. Thanks for being so candid about your journey, Prudence. I’m guessing that whatever the case, you’re better off not married to someone who would do something like this. I hope things are going well for you.

    • Moe

      Asshole. Yes. Thank you for saying it first.

      Prudence, thank you for sharing this. May you find healing, rest and renewed strength for the better things that will undoubtedly come your way.

      • Class of 1980

        Well he certainly was weird. Deeply weird. And his mother and his little dog Toto too.

        No loss, Prudence.

    • SusieQ

      I just want to throw in here that while, yes, he probably acted like an asshole sometimes, and definitely in this situation, there was a reason that she loved and married him. These are some of the reasons that they’re no longer married, and I really appreciate that she’s sharing them, but I think it’s important to not dismiss the importance of the relationship by carelessly throwing around insults. I hope that my point lands softly; I’m just trying to think about what I would want in this situation, and what I’ve needed from conversations about my exes.

    • I just want to put this up here, though it’s from comments below. It’s not always helpful to hear your former significant other called names, since at one point Prudence was married to this man. So to protect both parties, our official stance is to avoid name calling, and stick to positive support that doesn’t put down another person (ie. her former spouse) in the process. Thanks!

      • JustAnotherBlue

        Sorry. I responded to this the way I would have responded if I were face to face with a girlfriend listening to her tell me how her former husband used to pretend to not be married to her in order to impress his college friends. I feel overwhelming sympathy for the OP, and while I’m sure the whole story is complicated and the former husband might be a sweet kind soul who loves puppies, I was simply drawing a conclusion based on the information I’ve been provided.

  • I would totally make that toast, too, whatever the consequences. My blood was boiling just reading along.

  • Tania

    I think my heart just broke into a thousand little pieces for you. Sending love.

  • Marjorie

    I’ve never commented on this site before but I just had to let you know how much I’ve been enjoying this series. I’m very sorry that you’re going through this. The fact that you’re able to write about such a painful experience so beautifully is a real testament to your talent. As we contemplate marriage, I think it’s so important to look at the other side of it, what it looks like when it’s not working. Thank you for writing this.

  • Alison

    There’s a lot of hard stuff in this post. Clearly. Makes me think about various aspects of my college/post-college relationship and its crash landing and Rilke. But the main emotion it calls forth in me is excitement. For the growing and joy was just around the corner.

  • PAW

    Wow, sending hugs your way. On an unrelated note, I absolutely love “She’s currently on the road sightseeing, writing, and engaging in general vagrancy.”

    I think you make a wonderful point about compassion to our past selves. I would bet that an awful lot of us have had the moment of telling a story and stopping, to say, “…in retrospect, that was probably something I should have paid more attention to at the time.” No point in trying to smack ourselves upside the head for it! I know that I think back on those moments for myself, and they were so formative in retrospect that I have never disregarded that sort of moment again!

    (I just have to tell the story of my That Moment, because I am so hilariously flabbergasted that it happened. One of my ex-boyfriends said to me at one point, “No offense, but if we have children, I want to have more than one, because I don’t want them to end up like you.” …Good grief.)

    • Amber

      Man, that’s low. I bet we all have stories of horrible things exes have said to us. My first ever boyfriend, in breaking up with me, gave me an ultimatum, “Either we’re fuck buddies or we’re done.” That one has definitely stuck with me. After that comment, we were done!! It’s unfortunate that we put up with so much crap in many of our relationships. But, in the end I think they are opportunities for learning and growth and how to do things differently in the future.

    • MDBethann

      While I didn’t have to stand up and make a speech to let my college boyfriend know where I stood, there was one evening where he was in my town for an event at a rival school (we went to colleges over 4 hours apart). We went out for dinner and it got kind of late (like 11 pm late). He wanted to be back at his hotel that night and pretty much ordered me to take him. I said I was not driving an hour round trip in the dark to the other school so he would have to wait until 1st thing in the morning. He practically ordered me to take him. Since I was the only one with the car, I stood my ground, informed him that I wasn’t one of his soldiers he could order around (he was at a military school) and that he’d go back in the morning.

      It was another 5 months or so until we split up, but in hind sight, it certainly became That Moment for me and I’m not sure why I excused future behavior that was along those lines; maybe because it wasn’t so blatant? Because most of the time he was so funny and sweet?

      It took me a long time to get over that relationship, even though it was only a year and LDR the entire time. I don’t think the fact that he was a soldier and 9/11 happened right after our breakup helped matters – I had a lot of guilt. In the end, I got some counseling to deal with that and other scary big stuff in my life (my grandmother’s death, hating grad school) and I got better. And while I later dated some guys with similar personalities before I met my DH, when they started taking that sort of tone with me, they were told off and I pushed them away, no matter how much I liked them and how nice they normally were. I knew what I deserved and I didn’t deserve to be ordered around.

      And then I met my DH and realized there was a man out there who shared my values and was willing to talk things over and ask questions rather than order me around. Sometimes I feel like I have to push him to speak up and get him to tell me his preferences so I don’t bulldoze him into anything. But we’re good about saying “that’s not okay with me” to one another.

      I hope Prudence is able to grow stronger for her experiences and know that she should never be made to feel like her relationship is something to be hidden rather than something of which to be proud, public, and happy.

  • Amy March

    I’m supportive of the stance taken on comments- that we should confine ourselves to sharing our own experiences and not passing judgment on Prudence. But I think it is especially important that we extend that courtesy to her former husband, who hasn’t chosen to share his story with us and doesn’t have a chance to respond. Ie- let’s not be calling him names either.

    • Class of 1980

      Eh. I would agree if we actually knew who he was. But we don’t, so what’s the harm? Unless I’m missing something, he’s completely annonymous.

      • Amy March

        Um, unless he finds this? It just feels very inappropriate to be refraining from any judgement of Prudence but declaring open season on former husband.

        • Class of 1980

          “Prudence” is a pen name.

      • Aimee

        Theoretically, so is “Prudence,” so why can’t we extend the same courtesy to her ex? In the last post, Meg jumped in and said that we don’t know Prudie’s whole story, and not to judge… so I guess I’m wondering why that flies out the window regarding the husband?

        • KC

          I think “pretends, regularly, to not be married despite being married, while not informing his wife that he is pretending to not be married” is sufficient qualification for, at the very least, provisional “asshole” certification (there might possibly be some sort of circumstances where that might not apply, but I really can’t think of any).

          I mean, obviously, if Prudence were lying about what he did, then we would just be dealing with fiction and hence the fictional person behaved like an asshole, and I’m sure Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights would be so mad. But I think it’s fairly safe to say that the behavior described is asshole behavior.

          • Class of 1980

            Yes, that’s how I saw it. The story has also become more fleshed out with this post than the original post.

          • “I think it’s fairly safe to say that the behavior described is asshole behavior.”

            One description of one kind of behavior does not create a complete picture of a person. So it is still quite unfair to attach a negative label to an entire person based on a fragment. It’s similar (but not equal to) seeing a photo of a person and writing them off/stereotyping them based on their race or sex or the clothes they put on that day.

            It is not too much to ask, when reading a piece that portrays someone in a negative light, to imagine that particular person (someone we do not personally know) as the complex mix of good and bad that make up every individual. Perhaps hard for some, but not impossible.

          • Class of 1980

            This is probably not something all of us will agree on, and we come by our feelings honestly even if they are different.

            On the other hand, there can be redemption. An asshole can decide to no longer be an asshole.

            I don’t think of it as a permanent state, but it is a choice.

          • SarahRose

            I got married in college and in almost all conversations with classmates that didn’t know him by name continued to refer to him as my boyfriend. Not because I don’t love him, not because I am not proud to be his wife, but for the simple fact that in this context I found it derails conversations, very abruptly making it the conversation all about me. That made me uncomfortable.

            I guess like other people have said I am not really sure what value there is in proclaiming him an asshole, anyway.

    • Jan

      I think any name-calling happening in the comments is just another way readers are supporting Prudence. I am guessing Prudence is finding healing in sharing her story about her damaging relationship and probably recognizes that when people call her ex an asshole, it’s because they care about her, want to show empathy and genuinely think that he acted like an asshole.

      Prudence, I hope you are able to find strength and healing through your writing and solace reading the comments, because clearly this community feels for you.

      • I understand your point, and it’s certainly a valid one. However, there are plenty of ways to support a person that don’t rely on putting another person down to do so. And that’s the type of support we want to….uh, support. :)

        • Alison

          Right, and also, there is the possibility that name-calling of the ex could actually feel yucky to the writer, even if she shared the general sentiment. I am recalling my own Big Break-Up, where my ex did jerky stuff for sure, but I was not really consoled by the kinds of statements we’re talking about here. It felt like an oversimplification of a really complicated situation and also seemed to call into question why I would have spent five years with that person in the first place, i.e., my judgment. Obviously people are just trying to show support, but it’s helpful to tread delicately in this kind of terrain.

          • Alison

            Oops didn’t look carefully enough and thought this was the end of the thread–others made these points and more below!

    • Chalk

      I see where you’re coming from – I think the name calling really simplifies what sounds like a complex relationship. My limited insight leads me to think that he was particularly immature, insecure, and very self centered. I knew plenty of people with those characteristics coming out of college and entering their mid-twenties. Some people outgrew these tendencies. Hopefully this guy reflects on how he treated such a generous person and gets his life together. Luckily, Prudence seems strong and kind enough that she shouldn’t have a problem moving on to a better life.

      • rys

        This. I don’t doubt that the intent is to be supportive, but it still makes me feel uneasy — for 2 reasons. First, there is a difference between acting like a jerk/asshole and being a jerk/asshole. Labeling actions as such is, to me, quite different from labeling someone as such, and I don’t know enough of what was certainly a complex set of human relations to assess more than the described action. In general, this is something I try to remind myself regularly when dealing with people who aggravate me — distinguishing between actions that hurt and people who commit those actions helps me be more compassionate than I would otherwise be.

        Second, my sister’s husband was married and divorced before they got together, and I’ve always been profoundly uncomfortable with the way they refer to his ex-wife as “Satan” (not really the name, but something close). I don’t know all the details, but from what I know, he and his ex-wife married too young, too quickly, and too immaturely, and that produced the problems that led to divorce. Which is fine; it happens. And I can understand that name-calling helps objectify the person and create distance that helps heal and move life and emotions forward. But retaining that animosity over time (which defines the way my sister and her husband handle his ex, though it may not apply here) seems to me to stop that processing and healing in a very particular phase that, to me, feels problematic and worrisome. So I prefer to keep name-calling (rather than action-labeling) to a minimum so as to avert the cycle that may–or may not–ensue.

        But that said, I echo the support for Prudence, and deeply hope she finds solace in friends and family, wisdom in embracing vagrancy (!), and healing in writing and thought.

        • Katie Mae

          “In general, this is something I try to remind myself regularly when dealing with people who aggravate me — distinguishing between actions that hurt and people who commit those actions helps me be more compassionate than I would otherwise be.”

          Yes! I’m working so hard at this too. The more I practice compassion for others, the easier it gets to show compassion to myself.

        • Class of 1980

          “First, there is a difference between acting like a jerk/asshole and being a jerk/asshole.”

          Wouldn’t you say the difference is consistency? If someone behaves a certain way consistently, then they’re an asshole.

          • Perhaps, but name-calling never helped anyone. It’s cathartic, but it’s an over-simplification of a complex situation/relationship/person. The situation may be “more fleshed out” now that we have two essays from Prudence, but two essays can’t sum up an entire person or an entire relationship (no matter how eloquent Prudence’s writing is).

            As Maddie and Lucy say, labeling her ex does not help/support/show compassion for Prudence, which is what the comment policy and this community is about.

          • Class of 1980, you do not know this person from two posts, so there is no way to know if this is consistent behavior or a personality. We’ve also stated our stance on name calling. Please drop the argument.

            Thank you.

          • Class of 1980

            To Lucy:

            I asked a QUESTION of a specific poster as to her post, and how she differentiates between how someone is acting vs. how they really are. And then I told her how I defined it.

            You chose to interpret that specific post of mine as talking about the OP’s ex, which it wasn’t. It was about a definition.

            Furthermore, before I even saw your comment, I posted a message below that I was taking myself out of the comments.

          • I know you took yourself out of the comments today, and I respect the willpower it takes to do that when you have strong feelings about a subject. I posted this before I saw your comment below indicating you were leaving the comments, so I apologize for the redundancy there. As for your comment itself, as I stated below, I feel like this thread has derailed from the original post quite a bit and is mostly just circling itself at this point, so I hope we can discontinue it here.

    • Maddie

      Yes, 100% to what Amy March has said here. We’ve published posts on similar topics in the past and it is always our stance that we don’t attack the writer’s former spouse. For one, what Amy says here is true about the former spouse not having chosen to share his story with us and doing what we can to protect him in this context. Also, at some point Prudence WAS married to this person, and it’s not always helpful to hear your former significant other called names. So to protect both parties, our official stance is to avoid name calling altogether (that’s sort of our official stance always anyway.)

      • KC

        This makes sense, but I think it’s also useful to the community at large to note when a specific behavior or sets of behaviors is Not Acceptable Behavior For A Significant Other/Spouse (abuse, repeated manipulation, etc.), because I’ve seen women be trapped in thinking that things are normal/okay that are just plain *not* normal/okay.

        In my opinion, repeatedly telling people you’re not married (or not in a relationship), especially when your spouse or significant other is uncomfortable with that: not on the list of acceptable behavior.

        • Very true. But you alighted one something completely different “This Behavior is Not Acceptable” is a far different message than “This Guy is an Asshole”

          • KC

            Yeah; I mostly wanted the “don’t call him an asshole” conversation to *not* end up in the “we can’t say anything negative about his behavior or choices because we don’t see the whole picture”, which is where it seemed to be going. I particularly wanted to avoid this because the latter is a reasonably frequent abuser’s protection.

            (Abuser: “Darling, they just don’t understand our Amazing Special Relationship because they don’t see all of it!” Friend: “No, you abused your girlfriend because she called a friend without your permission, just to get a recipe, and according to you she’s not allowed to contact anyone without your permission. I don’t care what wonderful things might be theoretically also going on in your relationship, that is Utterly Not Okay. I don’t care how high the relationship highs are or how much he “needs” you or how many in-jokes you have or whatever, that is still Not Okay.”)

        • Maddie

          Oh for sure. I just think it hurts rather than helps this cause when we lob names at the effort. I need a more complex rendering of thoughts if you’re going to effectively convince me that something is not acceptable behavior. Because if it were me, I’d probably just recoil and say “Well, he wasn’t an asshole ALL the time.” And then we’ve lost our ground.

          So obviously expressing concern is fine (and I mean, in this case Prudence obviously knew it was not acceptable behavior). I’m just replying to the name calling specifically and any attacks on the partner that aren’t expressed as concern over behavior.

          • KC

            That makes sense! Thank you!

          • All of this.

            I would also say that it’s a dangerous thing to say that APW, as a community, should be identifying what is or is not Acceptable Behavior. That’s for you (and the laws of the land) to decide. I think we’re here to show people the variants of behaviors, and let folks decide for themselves what’s good and bad.

            This thread is also becoming very off topic, so let’s step back from policy now and get back to the post.

          • KC

            Lucy: I think community responses to particular behaviors can serve as an incredibly, incredibly valuable and necessary reality check. I’m not saying APW is the final moral arbiter or anything like that, but that when a lot of people say “that situation smells funny”, whether it’s a mother who is behaving badly or a significant other who is doing something weird/bad (or when it’s us who are off-key!), it can help us have better perspective than the walled-in relationship might have.

    • Chiming in with Maddie. Labelling or name-calling doesn’t further the conversation in a positive way, so for APW purposes, let’s avoid it please.

      • Anon

        Hi Lucy,
        I’m a regularish commenter on apw. And I am responding to you acceptable behavior quote above.
        Writers on apw are constantly defining acceptable behavior. For instance it is considered unacceptable to treat your vendors rudely.

        I love apw, and of course I realize that we as readers aren’t entitled to comment on posts, but it is really discouraging to be so obsessively moderated. When someone with the speacial blue comment box, like you or Maddie or god forbid Meg,comes along and checks you for something they deem inappropriate it feels like a lot like being kicked out of the cool girl clique back in grade school. That sounds pathetic, and I think that is why it doesn’t get said much. Sometimes checking commenters is justified, but it should be done sparingly.

        Look reading comments that are ugly or even just petty can suck for a writer. From the posts and links on apw, I can see that you guys are in touch with that feeling. Getting called out in the comments, or getting you comment deleted, can also feel pretty low. I’m not sure how in touch you guys are with that feeling.

        • Defining acceptable behavior for this site (ie. requiring people to respect the comment policy) is completely different from my comment arguing the implication that APW, as a business, a blog, as writers, etc, is actively defining what is acceptable behavior for the whole of society.

          We do not typically respond to these types of comments, as they derail the conversation from supporting the writer or the idea being brought forth in the post. However, I’m going to answer this as someone who has over 10 years of experience moderating forums, and as someone who is currently helping to moderate the comments here.

          I understand that it sucks to be told to watch tone, or have a comment deleted. However, we stand by our comment policy to the letter. Some posts require a heavier hand than others to keep things on track with the rules we set for the site, rules we want respected at all times. The comment policy is part of what allows writers to feel that this is a safe space, it helps people from feeling they will be picked apart in the comments, and we enforce it at all times.

          It’s easy to fall back on the idea that community moderation = a virtual popularity contest, but it simply isn’t the case. A better metaphor is this: this site is a business, a store, if you will. You have to follow the rules of the store, and if you don’t, the people that work there are well within their rights to ask you to change your behavior, or leave.

          If anyone feels that they are being treated unfairly and wish to discuss that with us, they are certainly free to send an email to discuss it. Email is the proper channel.

          I’ve deleted a comment responding to this, because we’ve already asked people to stick to the topic at hand. It will not be discussed further in comments.

    • Rachel

      I know that personally, when I’m describing the asshole behavior of someone I loved, it can be hurtful if other people call the person an asshole, because even though I know they want me to feel better, it just makes me feel really stupid…like I should have known better because DUH WHAT AN OBVIOUSLY TERRIBLE PERSON. So I think that out of respect for Prudence, who wrote she is trying to show her former self compassion, we should remember to be kind to her former self too. Everyone feels supported differently, of course, and I don’t know how Prudence feels about this…just throwing that out there as another reason to refrain from name calling.

  • Kristen

    My self flagellation is more about all the feelings in myself I ignored for so many years, more so than how crappy my ex was as a person and to me. You wise ladies are correct – hating on yourself because of mistakes you made in the past is pretty wasteful when it comes to good things to spend energy on. But it sure is easy. Too easy.

  • Jes

    Internet hugs to you Prudence and to all the other men and women struggling. Such a personal story, thank you for being brave enough to share it. Sending love your way.

  • Lauren

    Yikes, Prudence. I know this must be hard for you, but I am glad you are getting a chance to engage in general vagrancy.

    In a strange way, this post has really reaffirmed that the worries and concerns I have about our just-over-a-month-strong marriage are, in fact, valid and not just being a worrywart for the sake of worrying. I fretted over whether my husband would wear his wedding ring, whether he would write about being married on his grad school bio, whether his family would recognize me as his wife. And, thankfully, the answers are yes, yes, and yes. My concerns were reasonable; they just turned out to be unnecessary.

  • efletch

    Thank you for writing about this! Getting married in a month important to think about when does compromise become sacrifice. Written so beautifully, love and gratitude to you!

    • Kirstin


      As someone who is planning for a wedding, I was so grateful for this post. I have been very caught up in the details and checklist of getting everything done. I think this really gave me pause.

      It is hard to think about that there could be an end to this happiness that we have now. Divorce hasn’t really been a part of my family, immediate or extended. But it is a reality for so many and could be part of my future too.

      The Resigning Wife posts seem to be the most real and raw, and perhaps those that I need to read the most.

  • anon today

    Thank you for writing about this – it’s definitely in line with this month’s theme to put this out there, but in my experience, taking the risk of talking to people is so helpful. I also saw a counselor after the end of my last relationship, in which I felt a really similar sense of being hidden/denied as a partner. It was devastating to me, but I really learned about what I want and deserve. It’s a rough path, but many of us are on it with you :)

  • I can’t even imagine the rollercoaster of feelings you must have. Or the numbness. Or both. I hope you find contentment, then later- happiness.

  • Jessica

    Ugh, the old let’s be together but keep it a secret because reasons! Prudence, you’re not alone. How many of us have fallen for this at one time or another in our lives? I know that at least three of my good friends went through someone jerking them around in this way. I helped support two of them through their breakups, one of which made it about one year after the jerk proposed. Heck, my husband and I each went through this with high school boyfriend/girlfriend and bonded over our shared experience. I actually think that shared experience gave us a stronger foundation for our relationship, since we were both on guard to not pull that kind of crap with each other.

    Prudence, as hard as this is for you, I know you’ll come out stronger on the other side. Hugs.

  • Copper

    These stories scare me. It sounds so innocuous—oh, I’m just not a ring guy, etc. And it turned out to be the very tippy top of a giant iceberg of Big Hairy Deal™. It scares me because I think we all have those little quirks in our relationship, and you have to make a choice whether to let them go or investigate further. For a very related example, I gave Mr. Copperbeard an engagement ring that he never wears. It’s like half a size too big and he doesn’t want to bother getting it resized. I’ve chosen to let it go, but took him to get fitted for his wedding ring and pick it out so that he has no excuses when it comes to that one. I’m sure Prudence had a million moments of making the choice “do I let this go, or make it a thing…?”

    Now you can say, well most of the time you can let it go, because you trust your partner, he’s not the sort of guy who’d do that, etc. But on the other hand, nobody believes there partner is That Guy. They all want to believe better about him or her, otherwise why would they have married them? But somebody out there is that lady finding a whole other secret family or with the cops showing up on her doorstep to take her husband away for killing people, or goodness knows what. And that lady trusts her husband too. I don’t say this to be alarmist though I know it sounds that way, it just really interests me, the nature of trusting someone when there are so many examples of misplaced trust in front of us.

    • kyley

      In the month or so leading up to my wedding, I spent a lot of time getting very upset about very little things. The dishes, whether my partner liked my new bathing suit, the tone of his voice when he sleepily said good morning…all of these things became referendums on our relationship. It was exhausting, unhealthy, and unfair. My partner, to his credit, realized it was coming from a place of fear and pressure and was exceedingly patient with me. Which is to say, be careful about reading too much into the little things; I think this can be especially tempting at moments of transition, when you may be feeling insecure or afraid.

      I found that when I identified the fear at the root of my freak-out (I’m not afraid that you don’t like my bathing suit; I’m afraid that you won’t always find me attractive.) then I could share those fears and we could take them out. My partner could address my *real* concern, and he also was saved from a barrage or *all the feelings.*

      • Rachel

        “And that lady trusts her husband too.” This is one of the things I find scariest about getting married.

        • z

          Totally. I know it sounds silly, but it really freaked me out when they caught BTK (Wichita represent!), to learn that he had a wife and kids. Especially for those poor kids, oy.

          • Rachel

            Ummm that is not not silly AT ALL! Eric’s actually from Wichita too and we literally just had a conversation about BTK and how devastating that must have been for his wife/kids a couple of weeks ago.

    • Not Sarah

      “It scares me because I think we all have those little quirks in our relationship, and you have to make a choice whether to let them go or investigate further.” This.

      And this: “But on the other hand, nobody believes there partner is That Guy.”

      Sometimes it’s not that their partner is That Guy but that you two are a terrible fit. Which is even harder to accept. The absolutely terrible way that an ex treated me? He’s been with his subsequent girlfriend for years. It’s clearly not that either of us were terrible people, but that we were a terrible fit. And it’s so subtle. Fit is the hardest thing, even if you think you know yourself well.

      • Class of 1980

        Hmmm, I’m bothered by the idea that someone would treat a partner “absolutely terrible” just because they’re not a good fit.

        Seems to me you still treat the person with courtesy while you’re trying to figure out if the relationship will work.

        • I’d guess that the “absolutely terrible” part comes before one or both partners has the clarity to see the fit problems.

          Either way, it’s rarely that simple, and Not Sarah is right that sometimes it’s one person behaving badly, and sometimes it’s just the wrong chemical reaction taking place, and throwing off everything else.

          • Class of 1980

            Well, my comments are coming off negatively today.

            Look, I’ve been in several relationships that were the wrong fit – defined as two people who were just too different to ever be comfortable together.

            Only one guy consistently behaved like an asshole because he just was one – all the time – year after year.

            The others gave it their best effort and treated me well because they were decent people. They may have had asshole moments, but those were rare and they always admitted their mistake, said they were sorry and corrected it. I didn’t find that incompatibility caused any of these guys to treat me badly.

            My ex-husband even said to me once, after he said something awful … “You have to ask yourself – is this guy always a jerk, or is it a rare event?”

            Even he was defining an asshole by consistency. Frankly, I wouldn’t want to be with a guy who had treated another woman badly just because they were incompatible. If his ability to treat another human being decently is that fragile, he’s not ready for any relationship in my eyes.

            Anyway, I think I better sign off now. I’m obviously not having a good commenting day and don’t want it to go further downhill. ;)

        • KC

          Ideally, but humans aren’t ideal. Sometimes someone pushes all the wrong buttons, and sometimes that response pushes all the wrong buttons in the first person, and people make mistakes, sometimes big mistakes, in how they respond.

          (repeated, deliberate, abusive behavior is not what I’m talking about here. But someone can treat someone poorly for how that specific person needs to be treated while being able to have a successful relationship with a different person. Some plants require full sun, some full shade; different people require different conflict management techniques, etc., than others do. And then there’s just plain immaturity. :-) )

          • I love the plant analogy! Sometimes you’re a shade plant trying to live on a beach house deck. Sometimes someone just isn’t watering you, period.

          • As a certified black thumb, that plant analogy was perfect. And then I got really sad. I’m an abusive plant owner! :(

        • Not Sarah

          Looking back (this was in college), my explanation is that we were a terrible fit. I was too immature with social relationships to understand that then or to ask for how I wanted/needed to be treated. He clearly didn’t always treat me terribly or we wouldn’t have stayed together for almost two years. It’s so easy to look back and pin things on either one of us that I prefer to not try and do that anymore.

          There were two humans, many emotions, almost two years, and multiple cities. It was a pretty confusing and complicated situation. I think we both kept thinking that things would get better and our ideas about our lives would align and then they just never did.

    • Kristen

      Something I tried inarticulately to articulate and therefore gave up was about this. It was about how the way Prudence describes her husband resonate with how I’d describe my ex. Selfish, immature, etc. But here’s the thing. I’d also describe my now husband with those words too.

      The difference is that everyone is selfish, immature, hurtful, and not perfect sometimes. Even a lot. It’s what those people do with the information that you need more from them, different from what they’re doing, or better than what they’re giving. I believe my husband loves me because he was willing to change behaviors and just lazy relationship habits to make me happy. That’s why he is a thousand times better than my ex. Not because he has no flaws, but because he wants to be better. He wants to be better for me. I think I’m still fairly inarticulate here but hopefully this gives the worriers here something less to worry about.

    • KC

      Honestly, some people do know their partner is That Guy. There are a lot of reasons people stay in relationships or get married or stomp aggressively on the voice in the back of their head that’s saying “that wasn’t the truth” or “that wasn’t acceptable for him to do”.

      I’m sure many are also legitimately shocked by the second family or whatever, but a lot of friends of mine have known a relationship was Bad News on a really substantial level but haven’t broken it off (then) anyway.

      I’m not saying that it’s not sometimes a kind of fuzzy line to figure out, since humans in general make mistakes or are jerks occasionally (or won’t wear wedding rings because they’re allergic to the metal or it feels weird or whatever, although that’s definitely not the same thing as giving lousy reasons or pretending you’re not married at all!). Just saying that sometimes people do know to a significant degree and just can’t/don’t get out.

      • Cali

        You can also get into a weird cycle of convincing yourself that “it’s all in my head” or “he’s right, I’m being totally unreasonable about this.” That happened with my bad long-term relationship. He would routinely lie to me about pretty much everything, and cheated on me I don’t even know how many times, but he was an expert manipulator. I would start a conversation feeling 100% confident that I was in the right, but he would manage to twist the conversation around and play on my self-esteem until I was convinced that I was paranoid and needy and would let it go, even if I was still deeply upset. Yet, on some level, I still *knew* I had been right about whatever the situation was… but I would convince myself I was being crazy. It was really bizarre when I look back on it, but harder to see while in the situation.

        • Absolutely, there’s so many levels of manipulation, and then there’s full-blown Battered Woman Syndrome (or battered man, in some cases)

          • Anon

            Well… not to mention that sometimes, you know a relationship is broken, and you still don’t end it. Because for whatever reason, continuing the present is easier and less disrupting to either/both person’s lives. This can even continue for months (or years?) in my experience, until you finally follow through with what is the appropriate action, during which time other actions/behaviors/etc, get all up and entwined with the original problem, complicating it.

            I guess what I’m saying is what is a deal breaker for you when you first start dating someone is different for what is a deal breaker for you when you’ve been dating someone for a year or when you’re engaged or when you’re married. And figuring out how and when to forgive something that would’ve been a deal breaker in the past but is now only rage-inducing is usually quite difficult.

    • My husband doesn’t wear his wedding ring because he’s “not a ring guy”. I was really, really stressed about it before the wedding… and then stopped being stressed about it after the wedding, because it became clear that it really was a quirk and not a Big Iceberg Deal. He’s proud to be my husband, he’ll talk about me to anyone he meets any chance he gets, he is so very obviously married and happy to be married that the ring is tiny in comparison.

      • LILY

        “He’s proud to be my husband, he’ll talk about me to anyone he meets any chance he gets, he is so very obviously married and happy to be married that the ring is tiny in comparison.”

        Bingo! My parents have been married for 32 years, and I’m sure some of those years were better than others…but my father has never worn a wedding band. Not on their wedding day, and not today. I think in their several years of pre-marital cohabitation, my mom learned that he wasn’t a “ring guy” and decided that it wasn’t that big of a deal. And it hasn’t been! There’s a saying, “when you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras.” Meaning, not every quirk is a Big Iceberg Deal.

      • J

        I think, for some people, it can be cultural. Did the male role models in their lives wear rings? The major male figures in my husband’s life are/were all farmers, and they don’t/didn’t wear rings because it’s dangerous in their line of work (heavy machinery, etc.). I suppose they could wear them outside of work, but it’s the kind of job that doesn’t really have on- and off-hours – on any day of the week, they could decide to go hop in a tractor for a couple of hours.

        My husband works in an office – obviously no physical risk in wearing a ring! In my world, all married men wear rings, so, on the surface, not wearing one seems symbolic in not-a-good-way. As such, it was important to me that he wear one, and I think he got used to it pretty easily. If f I hadn’t cared, though, I bet he never would have gotten over the “it feels weird” hurdle that many men/non-jewelry-wearers hit, because, in his experience, wearing a wedding ring wasn’t an important part of being a committed husband.

      • Margret

        So this! My heart was breaking for Prudence as I read this post. I’m so sorry she stayed in a relationship where she was treated that way, not just by her ex, but also by his family. I simply can’t imagine going through that!

        I’m not a big jewelry girl, and my husband isn’t a big ring guy. He is a project engineer, which frequently involves lost of welding/machine work, so it came off all the time anyway. He actually lost the ring about a year ago, and we still haven’t bothered to replace it. I have health problems that sometmes make it painful to wear my rings. Sometimes they go on a chain around my neck but more often than not it means I just don’t wear them. Although people look strangely at us sometimes, I have never once met someone who didn’t know I was his wife, and the normal response is that they’ve heard a lot about me. I’ve never stressed about him, and he’s never stressed about me, because it’s a quirk we both happen to share. But I can’t imagine not wearing my rings because I didn’t want to admit I was married–and we got married when he had 2 years of college left!

        Although heartbreaking, I’m so happy for you and proud of you for getting out of this relationship and getting help to work through your feelings. I wish you all the happiness as your life goes on!

    • THIS:
      “But on the other hand, nobody believes there partner is That Guy. They all want to believe better about him or her, otherwise why would they have married them? But somebody out there is that lady finding a whole other secret family or with the cops showing up on her doorstep to take her husband away for killing people, or goodness knows what. And that lady trusts her husband too. I don’t say this to be alarmist though I know it sounds that way, it just really interests me, the nature of trusting someone when there are so many examples of misplaced trust in front of us.”

      This is me. Though not the specific examples listed or anything. But I trusted him completely and never ever would expected what happened. But here I find myself in this nightmare of my life. And the shock will not wear off….

  • Mariah

    Bravo comment policy, but maybe not for the reason you think. As I was reading the post, a million thoughts were running through my head, none of which met the comment policy criteria, and I really examined why that was. Why was my first reaction to think about giving advice (which is like saying that I have more knowledge/information/wisdom), or to think about the author’s reactions to what in hindsight were warning signs (that I obviously would NEVER have ignored … right?), or choices, etc.

    I realized that that line of thought is externalizing the issues related to fear, and families, and divorce – trying to get away from the discomfort of realizing that my relationship could be susceptible to the same (or similar) issues by focusing on what someone else did or is doing. By forcing me to evaluate my gut reaction, the comment policy pushed me towards honestly assessing why this topic is so interesting/scary/polarizing/disturbing. Now I’m thinking about the things in my relationship that may need work, or that may need to be confronted, or that are going well and should be celebrated. To me, that feels like a healthy internal dialogue that I wouldn’t have tapped into if the comment policy hadn’t been in place. Thanks for that :)

    • meg

      This is an AMAZING comment, and actually has a lot to do with why I wrote this comment policy in the way I did (though you articulated it better than I could have). I have found in the past that when people jump in to give advice (half cooked advice, by it’s very nature, since what kind of advice can we give after 1,500 words. On the information in the last post, people suggested if P just bought the Five Love Language’s she could save her marriage… now with a bit more information it’s clear that would never work…)

      But. Because I notice that when people are giving advice they’re using it as a way to shove the post away really hard without internalizing it. Which is an interesting observation in that, I wonder how often we do that in real life? When are we jumping in to give advice so we don’t have to internalize?

  • Angry Feminist Bitch


    Strength, Prudence. Respect, and strength.

    • anon today

      hee hee – reading A LOT of Dan Savage was also SUPER helpful after my breakup. Sounds like she did DTMFA (ok, not specifically calling him a MF here, in light of name calling comments above, but YKWIM!)

  • Riah

    Hey Prudence, thanks for sharing your story with us. I really appreciate APW including divorce alongside marriage, because I think it’s important to think about them and our feelings towards them together.

    Also, I love that you chose Prudence as your pen name. Everytime I see it, it makes me think of the Beetles song.

  • Elizabeth

    In college I was “with” a guy like this. I say “with” because I’m still unclear exactly what was going on (Dating? Friends with benefits?) with the relationship, though I can acknowledge a big part of this uncertainty was my inability to let go of something that was falling apart. I was young, I was dumb, I was in love.

    And though it ripped my heart out this guy didn’t want to tell our mutual friends what was going on between us for many years (he said it was to avoid drama/judgment, but I actually wonder if he was more ashamed/trying not to make the relationship “real” without hurting me, his friend)… and the friendship died a torturous death when he started openly dating the girl who was my best friend…. I also learned a really good lesson.

    I learned how I want to be treated and how I deserve to be treated. I could look back and see all the warning signs (oh my gosh, there were so many warning signs) and I used this information to make sure I didn’t let myself repeat the relationship with someone else. And it’s 5 years later, I got a little therapy, I’m engaged to the best person for me, and so, so, so happy it all happened so I could be the person I needed to be to meet (and stay with) the man I have. But even 5 years later, and with all this good stuff, I still catch myself having ill-will towards those former friends.

    My dad’s take on that old relationship was that the guy wanted to avoid confrontation but didn’t know how to say what he wanted (and didn’t want) without hurting me, because he did like me. As a friend. And I was a friend that was basically throwing herself at him. So he bumbled along and let me drive a ship he was steering… and we crashed.

    I still judge myself sometimes for being so smart in some ways (at a “New Ivy” college, studying the brain, behavior and psychology, had myself a clear path and the means to get there) and yet so so dumb (doing this guy’s homework, giving him the crucial argument to avoid a problem at school, scheduling my life around him and sacrificing hobbies and other friendships to hope he would spend time with me).

    But when I’m feeling kind to myself, I can acknowledge my role in that debacle, too, and be glad I learned from it and haven’t repeated it.

    And I’ve tried to stop driving ships that I’m not also steering, in my relationships and my other areas (work, friendships, hobbies). And if I have a copilot… well, I listen to them. Even when they’re not talking.

    • Way to go in learning from the past and keeping your current relationship strong and healthy! It sounds like you’re judging your past self less and less, which is awesome- I just wanted to chime in to say keep being kind to yourself. Beating yourself up over doing something dumb is like being mad that you answered a test question wrong when you hadn’t ever covered the material in class. You gotta learn at some point.

      Rock on, and best wishes to you and your fiance :-)

    • anonforthis

      I think we might be the same person. Seriously. An “exactly” doesn’t suffice here- you hit the nail on the head for me. I could waste time punishing myself for the decisions I made five years ago, but in the end, they got me to where I am and to the life I (so gratefully) have. Thanks for sharing!

    • Ali

      Wow, I had the exact same experience, right up to “new Ivy” and areas of study. Did we date the same person?

  • Rachel

    I don’t have much to add to this except that this was an exceptionally well-written piece and I really liked reading it (which I know is a weird thing to say about something so heartbreaking, but there you have it).

  • Marie

    I’m so sorry you had to go through this, big internet hugs to you

  • Your ex sounds like an asshole but I do think that the ring issue is not always an indication of a man’s commitment or lack thereof.

    My husband is committed to me and doesn’t wear a ring. He finds it uncomfortable and can barely tolerate wearing a watch – taking it off at his desk and the moment he walks in the door. Before we were even engaged he told me that he didn’t want to wear a wedding ring. I was really upset about it initially…then I realised it was about me, not him. And now that we’re married, and I find rings uncomfortable and take mine off when I am in the house, exercising, anything really…I realised a marriage is more than a ring.

    All the other stuff, combined with a ring, an asshole does make. But let’s not write off all guys who don’t want to wear one as assholes, please.

    • Alyssa

      I don’t think this is what Prudence is suggesting, but for every relationship there may be a little problem indicative of a larger issue. How your partner considers your feelings in his choices and addresses the larger problem is what’s important. I assume in your case, his commitment to you is made clear enough for your needs.


        I agree. For us, it was the name change. I changed it and wanted to change it back. I missed my maiden name so much it hurt. I thought about it for months to be sure, but when I told him he rather nastily replied, “sure, you can have it back after the divorce.”
        Totally indicative of the relationship. He thought I belonged to him and so did my identity. When I left, I had to have him write down all of the ID’s and passwords to my bank accounts and student loans and stuff- because I hadn’t had access to them during my marriage.

        • MDBethann

          Ouch. Hugs to you – that sounded rough. Kudos to you for finding the strength to leave a relationship that you realized was unhealthy for you.

      • I thought it was clear that I am referring to the comments as much as anything else. I’d just be sad if this spun someone who was feeling stressed about getting married (which has been discussed at length on APW) and missed out on a good thing over someone not wearing a ring. Obviously in this case this was part of a bigger picture, and I said he was clearly an ass, just reminding people that a ring is not the be all and end all.

  • Ami

    My husband left the ring. I think I wish he would have taken it. Funny how these things work. Hugs from someone in a similar place. Big hugs.

  • Kristen

    Last night I asked my husband what he would do if we got car jacked or mugged. We had some fun going through different scenarios (I voted for driving off real fast!).

    He ended by saying if anyone ever tried to steal his wedding ring, he would offer to take them to the ATM or give them his card and pin number. He said he’d tell them it wasn’t worth much but it held a lot of sentimental value to him. My husband isn’t very sentimental himself so hearing how much his ring meant to him, meant a lot to me too.

  • Caitlyn

    I love that this site encompasses so much more than just wedding planning tips. It it is a guide to embarking into all things marriage, including, in some cases, how to end one. Thank you for sharing this with us, Prudence.

  • The “pretending not to be married” deal is really, REALLY disappointing behavior on his part and I can’t imagine how hurt I would have been in your shoes, Prudence.

    My partner doesn’t want to wear a wedding ring. That was tough for me at first. He simply doesn’t like wearing rings, and I get that – my BIL and my dad have gone through the same thing (and eventually compromised, owning rings but not always wearing them).

    As we talked about it I came to a place where it’s no longer bothering me, but it’s clear that for you that ring came to represent something much bigger than the piece of jewelry itself. So many things got wrapped up in that little ring. It’s interesting how something like this can become such a huge symbol for the bigger issues in a relationship.

    With my ex-husband, it was our lack of a shared last name. His family is from a country where everyone in the family could easily have a different last name – yet because they perceived me as being “the bad guy” in the marriage it was really hurtful to some of them that I chose to keep my last name rather than share his. (This only came out when we were divorcing, but I suspect it had been bothering them before, too.) Bigger pain than how to address a holiday letter to us got wrapped up in our names.

    Wishing you all the best as you move forward. Resigning wife isn’t an easy path, but as you know, sometimes it’s the right one.

  • js

    This is risk. This is what this month is about, or at least illustrates it best to me. Marriage is still the biggest adventure two people can have together. There is no bigger chance to take than promising forever to someone. No bigger gamble than to give them your heart and ask them to take care with it. Prudence took that risk. Maybe it didn’t work out but there is also risk in being hopeful.

  • Jella

    You are so honest and so brave. So, so brave.

  • SarahT

    On making that toast-Huzzah!!

  • My husband, his brother & his cousins are the first generation of their family to wear wedding rings. It would be disappointing to me if he didn’t wear his ring in following the family tradition so I just can’t imagine how awful it would be if my husband just didn’t want to wear his ring. Or admit to being married! I continue to wish you bigger, better & brighter things, Prudence!

  • Del678

    Interesting to read about all the people having issues with men wearing rings.
    My fiance isn’t into it. It’s really important to me. I understand jewellery in general is quite foreign to many men, and maybe I’m just a stickler for reciprocity. I asked him, “would you like me to not wear my ring when around random men at a bar”. He would not like that. Problem solved.
    Wearing an engagement ring felt really weird for like the first month, and I was super paranoid about it. But now I feel naked without it. I figure if I can get used to and attached to it, then so can he. Not to mention that any sort of male attention I used to receive completely stopped – so I know the power of a ring!

  • C

    Oh Prudence, it’s so hard to read your story. You have all the internet hugs and sympathy I can give. Your ex-husband’s behavior must have been so hurtful. I can’t even imagine.

    Thanks for your bravery in sharing your story and in getting therapy to deal with it. Best wishes to you.

  • I read this yesterday with my heart in my throat, but didn’t leave a comment because I didn’t know what to say.

    Lying in bed last night I couldn’t stop thinking about this, and about how…almost shockingly different it felt from the first Resigning Wife piece. I remember in the previous one Prudence’s heartbreak was so palpable, but the nagging “why? and how?” were missing. This was reflected in the comments there, of people suggesting counseling, of wondering if Prudence had tried everything, of the lack of clarity scaring a lot of us into thinking divorce could be lurking around every corner since (from that piece) the demise of Prudence’s relationship was so murky.

    But this one, obviously there is so much more to the story, so much more than Prudence will ever tell us. It’s telling that the same situation, told by the same person, just about another facet of it, could elicit such different responses. No one was wondering yesterday if Prudence tried hard enough, if perhaps there was something she was missing that could have saved the marriage. There was more to this story, is more to this story. It broke my heart.

    It made me consider how I experience my own marriage, and how I portray it to the world. When I tell my friends and family that things are fine, great, we’re still very much in love, here’s a story about a sweet thing he did for me, we’re planning things for the future, am I being honest? Or am I glossing over something sinister, something I know isn’t good or loving or right? Am I air-brushing and censoring my experience because I’m respecting my husband’s privacy and not airing our dirty laundry all over town (and want my mom to still think he’s a sweet dude, and not dwell on the fact that he’s an assface who never hangs up his wet towels), or am I doing it because I’m ashamed of how I’m “letting” myself be treated?

    For me, for now, things are fine. They’re good, actually. Even the wet towels don’t really bother me. But some day things might not be so good, and I thank Prudence for being so open and honest and sharing her experience, so that I may be more critically reflective, and honest with myself.

    • anonlurker

      “It made me consider how I experience my own marriage, and how I portray it to the world.”

      I kept coming back to this post (and the comments) long after I first read it, with new thoughts each time. I started reading the comments … and a lot of those “red flag”, tip of the iceberg situations? Have definitely had those conflicts, sometimes multiple times (with each party getting a turn at being “wronged”, depending on the specific conflict). Does this mean we are doomed to hurt each other irrevocably in the future? I don’t think so, but I don’t have a magic 8 ball. But what struck me is that I (or my partner) could tell any of those stories, and the listener could think it was the prelude to a break-up. Except it wasn’t, because they would be single snapshots in time.

      Even more interestingly (and complicated) to me is the balance between being “on the same team” and presenting a united front versus getting individual support and validation from family/friends/community. How do you balance between validating yourself as an individual versus validating your relationship, when you cannot always do both simultaneously? I think we’re often drawing and redrawing lines in the sand on that front, for ourselves and for our friends (“Marriage or Mexico”, and the comments in response to that piece demonstrate how variable this concept can be).

      Like Cathi, I find myself glossing over the conflicts we have to family and friends. I actually have no hesitation in saying that we fight — but I am very reluctant to offer specifics. I find that even those who truly want to support our relationship end up making comments or giving advice that doesn’t help me get past the difficult feelings or fear I have (i.e. I have no problem saying my partner is being a jerk, but if you say it, it makes me feel worse — even if I know you’re just trying to validate my feelings). Also, I prefer to do my laundry inside the house. But as a blanket policy, it doesn’t feel healthy, because it can be hard to know what the limits or deal-breakers should be. And how can I make my comments more constructive for my friends when they go through similar situation? Because I’ve probably been guilty of similarly hurtful comments to friends in these situations, even with the best of intentions.

      So much food for thought and introspection. Prudence, I can’t even imagine how much faith and courage it must have taken to write this and put it in a public forum like this, not to mention what it took to make your way through the experience in the first place. But thank you for doing it nonetheless. It has given me a lot to reflect on, and rightfully so. This is so infrequently the conversation that is taking place, but so often the one that should be.

  • Oh, Prudence. All Best to you on your journey. My ex-husband wore his wedding ring after our divorce. To ward off women. Seriously.

  • Molly

    Prudence, thank you so much for sharing your story. I wish you the best.

  • It feels like I am reading my own story. My husband started College the year after we got married, and all of a sudden he didn’t want me to meet his friends, call me his wife, wear his ring, and all I did was make excuses as to why it was okay. It’s oddly comforting that I’m not alone in this sort of situation.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Amy

    Dearest Prudence, you aren’t alone. Sharing your story has made so many of us fellow resigning wives- navigating the awful, rocky, steps of divorce right now feel so much less alone. I just want you to remember the same. We are with you and our hearts break for you. Keep on keeping on